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With $22M in Funding, German Consortium Joins ICGC to Study Two Rare Pediatric Brain Cancers

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This story was originally published December 10

Following a call for applications in July (see In Sequence 7/21/2009), the German federal government and the charity German Cancer Aid have awarded €15 million ($22 million) in funding to a consortium of researchers from seven institutions in Germany to participate in the International Cancer Genome Project.

The German ICGC research network, called PedBrainTumor, led by Peter Lichter at the German Cancer Research Center, will focus on two rare types of childhood brain cancers: medulloblastoma and pylocytic astrocytoma.

The researchers have already done preliminary studies on these cancers and have compiled comprehensive tumor sample collections, Lichter said in a statement.

For each type, the consortium plans to comprehensively analyze 300 tumor samples and matched normal controls from the same patients. The goal is to discover new targets for therapies as well as diagnostic biomarkers and predictors of treatment response.

The studies will include pathology, sequencing of genomic DNA, paired-end read mapping, methylation analysis, transcriptome analysis, and small RNA analysis.

Sequencing for the project will in part be outsourced to companies, and the consortium has already tested GATC Biotech's services in a pilot project. "Rapid technological progress causes prices for DNA sequencing to fall continuously," Lichter said in a statement. "Therefore, we always contract out for only six months so that we can reduce the costs for the whole project."

The consortium will also build a data storage center at the BioQuant Center of Heidelberg University that will have a capacity of several petabytes, a project headed by Roland Eils at the German Cancer Research Center, the consortium's deputy coordinator.

Besides the German Cancer Research Center, PedBrainTumor involves researchers at the National Center for Tumor Diseases in Heidelberg, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg University Hospitals, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Düsseldorf University Hospitals, and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin.

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